LET IT BE MORNING – Review by Diane Carson

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Let It Be Morning finds Palestinian Arabs caught in a state of siege.

True to his familial Palestinian responsibility, Jerusalem based IT employee Sami returns to his small Arab village near the West Bank to attend his younger brother’s wedding. What follows in the narrative of Let It Be Morning unnerves, frustrates, and angers the Palestinians, baring the political and psychological tension of Israeli-Palestinian relationships, within Sami’s family, and throughout the community.

After the marriage celebration, Sami begins the drive back to Jerusalem with son Adam and wife Mira. They confront an Israeli military blockade, no explanation given and no exceptions for passage, even with official documents. Back to his father’s home they go, confined for the “state of siege,” as it’s labeled in press notes. In the mix, Sami’s father favors confrontation, endearing taxi drive Abed faces tragedy, a local council gang threatens quarreling residents, Sami can’t get a call through to his computer company or mistress, among other details.

Best known for his immensely entertaining film The Band’s Visit (2007) (adapted as a stage musical), Israeli director Eran Kolirin adapted Palestinian Sayed Kashua’s 2006 novel at Kashua’s request. Kolirin states that this “beautiful, funny, cruel, absurd, and sad tale . . . was an unlikely project to be entrusted with. A story told in Arabic about a Palestinian village, but was written in Hebrew by a Palestinian author . . . Then while making this film, the entire world came under siege which led me to realize just how universal this tale is.”

Shot in a straight-forward style that segues from restricted shots to more expansive ones, with complementary but unintrusive music, the skilled, delicately balanced satire rests on a goldmine of metaphors. The opening shot of the wedding is through the bars of a cage holding several white peace doves that won’t fly free then or later, even when prodded to do so. The sole Israeli guard interacting with Palestinians twice forgets his rifle, dozing and distracted. The villagers fight each other, unable to organize. And the power goes out. The acting delivers all of this with masterful performances of nicely differentiated characters, with only the women too undeveloped. Israel’s submission for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Feature Film Oscar, Let It Be Morning is in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.

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Diane Carson

Diane Carson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, has reviewed films for over 25 years and has covered the Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Palm Springs, and Sundance festivals. She writes for KDHX, 88.1 FM. St. Louis’ community radio. One of the founders of the St. Louis International Film Festival, she continues to serve on juries. A past president of the University Film and Video Association, she taught film studies and production at St. Louis Community College and at Webster University. Her new book, written with two colleagues, is “Appetites and Anxieties: Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation,” Wayne State U. Press, 2014.